Mobb Deep, "Survival of the Fittest" (1995)
Prodigy knew how to start a verse with a vivid phrase, and the first bar of "Survival of the Fittest" is perhaps his greatest opening salvo. It's almost hard to believe that, "There's a war going on outside no man is safe from" was coined by a Queens rapper in 1995 and not a novelist 50 years earlier. Kanye West tweaks it on "Murder to Excellence," Cam'ron spins it on "Welcome to New York City," Jay Z borrows it on "A Ballad for the Fallen Soldier" and even N.E.R.D. shouts it on "Don't Worry About It."